2023 Ultimate Bucket List
Best Wild Places to Visit & When
Be inspired by our world-class Expedition Team’s picks of the best bucket list destinations, experiences and unique activities for adventure seekers to set your sights on in 2023. Discover the joy of some of the wildest and most pristine places on the planet, and travel with a positive impact.
We hope you use this guide to stop daydreaming and start planning your next meaningful adventure, whether it’s one of our classic expeditions, new discovery voyages or immersive treks, or another once-in-a-lifetime experience on your travel bucket list. After all, it won’t check itself off!
Best time to go trekking in Patagonia
With world-famous national parks, turquoise lakes, curious wildlife and vast glaciers, Patagonia should be at the top of any active traveler’s bucket list. Summer is peak season in Patagonia, with up to 18 hours of daylight for travelers to enjoy outdoor pursuits. The best way to experience Patagonia is on foot, on a guided trek that takes you into the heart of this breathtaking natural playground. Imagine traversing pristine beech forests and being alone with your thoughts on wind-swept plains that stretch for miles. Feel humbled by gigantic calving glacier fronts while eagles and condors circle granite peaks overhead.
- Be on the lookout for colorful flamingos, ibis and swans on the shores of Lake Argentino, and be welcomed by peaceful guanacos (relatives of the llama) grazing as you cross the Patagonian steppes.
Best time to explore underwater in Antarctica
With most of Antarctica’s unique wildlife calling the icy waters home, and a whopping 90% of icebergs being tucked away below the surface, experienced divers should jump at the opportunity to scuba dive in Antarctica. Encounter immeasurable ice structures that shapeshift and play tricks on you in different angles of light. Be awed by icebergs that extend beyond the reach of any human, and curious marine life that thrives in its icy depths. February is the best time to experience Antarctica’s icy waters, as sea ice has retreated to the maximum level and a world of breathtaking ice is exposed.
- Penguin chicks born earlier in the summer flourish in the crowded colonies in the late season, going through a quick adolescence and preparing for adult life at sea. Watching as they take their first tentative steps into the water and learn to swim is an absolute joy.
Best time for whale watching in Antarctica
In summer, whales flock to Antarctic waters in astonishing numbers to gorge on Antarctic krill, which flourishes in sea ice. Then, much like humans, after spending the summer months fattening up, they are ready to burn off excess fuel come March. With species including humpback, orca and minke whales at their most playful, this makes March the best time to enjoy unforgettable encounters with these gentle giants. Most expedition ships have left the scene by this time, so you will feel like you have the whole peninsula to yourself. You can even opt to fly over the Drake Passage to maximize your time there, or fly one way and sail the other way for a more traditional experience. Read more about why we love late season Antarctica.
- Provide invaluable data to the scientific community by participating in our ‘Happywhale’ Citizen Science Program.
Best time for sun-kissed adventures around the globe
Flock to the magical Azores islands that dot the Atlantic, where you can revel in striking coastal and mountain scenery on guided hikes. Discover lake-filled calderas, immerse yourself in culture in charming seaside villages and keep watch for abundant marine wildlife. In April the Azores boasts warm weather and sun-filled days, making it the best time to visit. Across the sea, Costa Rica is a delight for active adventurers with spectacular marine life and pristine rainforests with colorful plants, birds, monkeys and sloths. Hike through tropical rainforests, witness underwater panoramas on snorkeling and scuba diving excursions, and paddle amongst acrobatic dolphins. Experience Costa Rica at the end of the dry season when the crowds have returned home.
- Journey through the fabled Panama Canal, a man-made waterway that enables ships to travel through Central America from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, on a guaranteed rare daylight crossing.
Best time to soak up history and culture in the United Kingdom
Year after year, travelers return to the United Kingdom for its historic castles, ancient ruins, dazzling coastlines and unique cultures and traditions. Visit Cornwall, home to iconic coastal villages like Fowey, with its strong Celtic connections and maritime history. Another hidden gem is Penzance, which can be explored on a walking tour. Be transported to a time when pirates and smugglers where aplenty. In May, witness the countryside in full bloom and visit towns and attractions before they become overrun with tourists. Discover the top 5 experiences on our Jewels of Coastal UK expedition.
- Take your explorations to the next level by combining your voyage with the Cairngorms National Park Explorer – an 8-day trek through the heart of Scotland. Marvel at picturesque mountains, lush forests, deep glens and charming villages with rich heritage.
Best time for bird watching in the Arctic
The Arctic’s long summer days attract millions of migratory birds, making it a dream destination for keen birders. By June, rocky cliffs all over the Arctic are alive with the cacophony of bird chatter from Atlantic puffins, northern Fulmars, Brunich’s and black guillemots, little auks, common elders, glaucous gulls, kittewakes and Arctic terns. Other species including ptarmigan, sandpipers and waders head for the lush Arctic tundra, while snow buntings, great and Arctic skuas, red-throated divers, geese, phalaropes, long-tailed ducks and eiders choose magnificent tarns as their summer homes. Zodiac-cruise under towering cliffs or embark on a guided hike with an ornithologist who will help you identify different species.
- Enjoy guided walks through some of Iceland’s most stunning terrain, across Arctic tundra, over sheer table mountains to jaw-dropping views of dramatic fjords. Be on the lookout for diverse birdlife that call the “Land of Ice and Fire” home.
Best time to sightsee from above in Greenland
Experienced climbers will relish exploring the remote and rugged summits of East Greenland, with an experienced guide. Scale sheer granite cliffs and glacial remnants in pursuit of breathtaking views of Scoresbysund’s ice-filled fjords. The rest can follow along at sea level. In the world’s largest fjord system, views from a kayak are just as impressive. In July, Greenland’s rugged coastline is ripe for exploration, with its many secrets having been locked in place by drift ice for up to eight months.
- Witness Greenland’s long-bearded musk ox from afar , keeping a safe distance from their musky scent. They thrive in several regions of Greenland, from the remote northeast to more populated areas in West Greenland.
Best time to spot endemic wildlife in the Arctic
By August, the Midnight Sun is at its peak, and there is ample time to search for iconic Arctic wildlife. July is the best time to spot the elusive polar bear, when they spend the long days prowling for food on ice sheets along the far northern coastlines. Arctic foxes start giving birth in July – their fluffy pups are guaranteed to melt the coldest heart! Arctic foxes are often found near polar bears, so bargain hunters will appreciate the chance to snag a 2-for-1 deal. In August, you can also find walruses lounging on shorelines across the Arctic, segregated into sexes until mating season starts in December.
- The experience of sea kayaking in Svalbard is guaranteed to stir your soul. Come July, the ice has melted enough for paddlers to easily navigate this archipelago’s still-icy waters and access its more intimate coastlines.
Best time to see the mesmerizing Northern Lights
By September, the nights in the Northern Hemisphere are starting to lengthen. As the night falls, look skywards hoping to catch a surreal light display of vibrant hues of blue, green, pink and violet dancing across the sky. Head to destinations skirting the coastline of the Arctic Circle, such as northern Norway, Iceland and Greenland, to maximize your chances of witnessing the natural phenomenon of the of the dazzling auora borealis.
“The Inuit tale about the Northern Lights is that it’s people in the sky who are playing football with a walrus skull. A local trick to call out the Northern Lights is to whistle, so you might want to try that when you’re standing outside in the night on the ship.”
Bettina Ovgaard, Arctic Researcher & Special Guest
Best time for skiing or snowboarding in Antarctica
Be among the first visitors to welcome a fresh new season in Antarctica. By October, the pristine slopes are ready for first tracks by skiers and snowboarders, but first you must earn your turns by skinning up the mountain. Move higher up the slope, breaking new trails and dreaming about the sweet descent to come. As you begin your run, the iceberg-filled Antarctic waters will come back into view. Whether you’re a backcountry pro or an experienced resort skier seeking your first touring adventure, Antarctica offers a whole new world of ski and board possibilities.
- Spring marks the return of wildlife to Antarctica. Penguins start building their nests and mating season begins.
Best time for wildlife photography in South Georgia
Nicknamed the Galapagos of the Southern Ocean, November in South Georgia attracts the eyes and cameras of wildlife lovers from all over the globe. King penguin rookeries are nearing their peak, young seal pups are raising their heads for the first time, and mighty male elephant seals may be spotted battling it out for supremacy. November is the best month to spot the wandering albatross, with the largest wingspan of any bird in the world, stretching up to 3.5 metres across. Need some photography tips along the way? The onboard professional photographer can offer technical tips to help you improve your photography skills.
- Attempt to retrace the epic 1916 crossing of Sir Ernest Shackleton, trekking or skiing for up to three days across South Georgia from King Haakon Bay to Stromness.
Best time to celebrate in Antarctica
Summer is well and truly in the air come December in Antarctica, with penguin colonies at their liveliest and mothers showing off their young. However, hatchings are not the only reason to celebrate! Experience the ultimate white Christmas that you are guaranteed to remember for a lifetime, surrounded by loved ones and like-minded travelers that have become lifelong friends. Enjoy a traditional Christmas lunch, but be prepared to drop your cutlery if your Expedition Leader announces a pod of whales ahead or other unforgettable gifts from Mother Nature.
- December is your last chance to camp on the ice for the season. Experience the midnight sun while listening to the ice crack and shift nearby. Penguins may stand while they sleep but you don’t have to, sleeping mats and bags are provided.
Arctic & Beyond 2023-24 Season Brochure
Explore our brand-new Arctic & Global 2024 season, full of life changing adventures across the wildest and most remote destinations around the globe. Featuring 15 departures exploring the Arctic and 3 voyages to our global destinations.
Dive into our comprehensive 112-page brochure and find your next life-changing adventure.